One interesting aspect of keeping tabs on prospects is the fact that while it's nearly impossible for a hitting prospect to come out of nowhere to put themselves on the prospect radar, the same isn't entirely true of pitchers. Put another way, it's pretty difficult for position players to suddenly pick up some game-changing new skill -- you don't suddenly develop massive power, or a keen eye at the plate, overnight -- but on the flip side, a pitcher can tweak his mechanics and suddenly find an extra 5 mph on his fastball, or learn a new secondary pitch that makes his other stuff play way up. Now, obviously this doesn't happen all the time, but it happens enough that we're well served to cast a wider net in running through potential pitching prospects than potential hitting prospects.
In that spirit, there are three names below the jump here -- Mike Nesseth, Tyler Cloyd, and Lisalberto Bonilla -- who I haven't yet discussed in a Prospect Roundup, but who are nonetheless worth keeping tabs on. So if you're interested to see what they're bringing to the table, and want to check in on some of the more usual suspects, read on...
Jarred Cosart, RHP, Clearwater: It's been a strange season for Cosart, who has seen his numbers slip from his excellent 2010 despite not seeing any real diminution in raw stuff. A 3.68 FIP hardly represents a disaster of a campaign, but 7.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 0.45 HR/9, and a 54% GB are disappointing given that the hard-throwing right-hander had only ever posted pristine numbers whenever he was healthy. His continued health has been the best news to emerge from his 2011 campaign, and to the extent his relative struggles teach him anything about the finer points of pitching (i.e., command, pitch selection, sequencing, etc.), it could turn out to be a good learning experience.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B-L, Clearwater: Keith Law noted that the organization had tried to tweak Singleton's hitting mechanics to start the year, a fact which may help explain some of Singleton's early season struggles, as the big slugger scuffled to a .266/.356/.357 line through the end of May. Since junking that change, he's looked much more like his old self, posting a .306/.462/.514 line in June with 21 walks to 15 strikeouts. Sure, it's just a month, and Singleton has shown to be a bit streaky throughout his brief pro career, but he's up to .279/.395/.409 on the year, and I think we can officially stop worrying.
Brian Pointer, OF-L, GCL Phillies: An above slot signing as the club's 28th round pick in last year's draft, Pointer has gotten off to a scorching start with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, ripping 6 extra base hits in his first 23 plate appearances to post an extremely small sample size .364/.391/.682 line in the early going. He's split his time between right field, left field, and designated hitter thus far, with draft reports indicating he should have the athleticism to stick in right over the long haul. Early days, obviously, but you have to like the explosive performance right out of the chute.
Michael Schwimer, RHP, Lehigh Valley: Schwimer's 2011 has been fascinating from a statistical perspective. He's struck out 55 in 44.1 innings while allowing just 3 long balls (11.2 K/9 and 0.61 HR/9) en route to a 2.85 FIP... but on the other hand, he's walked 17 (3.5 BB/9) and, even at 6'8", he's running just a 37% GB. It's obviously a successful season overall, and I think it's safe to say that Schwimer has successfully passed the Triple-A challenge and deserves a major league look at some point, but the lack of a truly plus pitch does limit his ceiling. Still, while we marvel over Mike Stutes and praise the potential of Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus, let's not forget that Schwimer has consistently posted better numbers over the course of his pro career.
Sebastian Valle, C-R, Clearwater: While Singleton has recovered from an early season funk, Valle has returned from the DL (he spent two weeks there after a concussion) to pick up right where he left off, going 5 for 15 with a double in his first four games back. Unlike Singleton, however, the peripherals are worrying here, as Valle has still walked just twice on the year through 45 games (a whopping 1.1% BB), and that .436 BABIP is obviously going to come down at some point. One bit of good news is that Valle has continued to improve defensively, and he's thrown out 37% of baserunners this year (a career best).
Drew Carpenter, RHP, Lehigh Valley: After posting a 4.08 FIP as a Triple-A starter in 2009, followed by a 4.43 FIP in the same role in 2010, the 26-year old Long Beach State product found himself in a multi-inning relief role for the IronPigs to begin 2011, and while he's not a true prospect at this point, what he's done as a member of the bullpen is nonetheless worthy of a mention. Simply put, the shift to the pen has given his numbers a serious boost: 10.1 K/9, 1.1 BB/9, 0.20 HR/9, and a 53% GB, all adding up to a stellar 1.84 FIP. I haven't seen any reports indicating whether his stuff has played up in shorter bursts, but the numbers alone are enough to make one pause before dismissing Carpenter as nothing but a Quad-A guy.
Tyler Cloyd, RHP, Reading: As gregg from Phuture Phillies pointed out last week, maybe it's time to take notice of what Cloyd has done this year. Cloyd played Division II ball at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and put up great college numbers in 2006 and 2007, but he dropped out of school and was apparently surprised to be drafted by the Phillies in 2008 (in the 18th round). Cloyd struggled in two cracks at Clearwater before impressing at the level in 39.1 innings this year, and now in the Reading rotation, he's suddenly retiring Double-A hitters at an impressive clip, managing a 3.16 FIP on the strength of 8.0 K/9, 0.7 BB/9, 1.04 HR/9, and a 49% GB. He's 24, but after looking like organizational filler to begin the year, he suddenly looks like a potential bullpen guy.
Lisalberto Bonilla, RHP, Lakewood: The 21-year old Dominican right-hander just got bumped from the Lakewood bullpen to the rotation, and responded with his best outing of the season on Saturday, a 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K no decision. Bonilla pitched very well in 6 starts for the GCL Phillies last summer before struggling in 10 outings with Williamsport, but he's bounced back with impressive season numbers this year: 8.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.23 HR/9, and 55% GB, all good for a 2.54 FIP. Makes him one worth keeping an eye on in the Lakewood box scores, certainly.
Domingo Santana, OF-R, Lakewood: Anytime you have an 18-year old hitting .265/.326/.445 in full season ball, you can't really be disappointed, but I feel like there's still more to see from Domingo Santana. The precocious power he showed as a 16-year old in the Gulf Coast League (6 HR and a .220 ISO in 37 games) is still there, as Santana sports a .180 ISO and 6 HR on the campaign, but his plate discipline numbers have tilted toward the extreme, with just a 5.7% BB compared to a 37.4% K. He's exhibited better patience in the past (a career 12.1% BB coming into the year), and he'll need to get back to that going forward if he doesn't want to get exposed at higher levels.
Mike Nesseth, RHP, Williamsport: The University of Nebraska product was highlighted as a sleeper prospect by John Sickels the other day (h/t taco pal), and he's certainly one worth keeping an eye on. Nesseth racked up a bunch of strikeouts primarily in a relief role in college (136 in 115.1 IP), but his command problems and Tommy John surgery dropped him to the 17th round of the 2010 draft. He's a 6'6", 225-lb. right-hander who always threw hard in college, so the raw tools are all there, but the development of his slider and change up will determine how far he goes. To that end, the fact that all 4 of his strikeouts in his first pro start came on sliders is a good sign.